Thursday, February 17, 2011

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup and Cheese Onion Bread

Minestrone Style Soup                Cheese Onion Bread

Grammie, Menchie's Frozen Yogurt, Braydon, Tinker Toys, Legos, Train Rides, Painting, Movies, the color Green, Planes, Cake, Cole's Birthday, Cooking with Mommy, Daddy Coming Home ... these are a few of Cole's favorite things for today!

Today was all about Cole ... well all about Cole's favorite things and Braydon equally enjoyed them as well.  The last 2 days we made some of Cole's favorite things as part of his birthday countdown- but today we did a few of his favorite things.  

Starting our morning off, Cole requested pancakes for breakfast.  So, with pancakes and milk the boys enjoyed some Disney Playhouse cartoons while I prepped dinner since we planned to be gone for the afternoon.  Crock pot meals and bread makers are a girl's best friend on days like today.

I created a minestrone type soup based off of the ingredients I had in my pantry.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I hardly ever go to the store to shop for ingredients of a recipe ... I find myself adapting each recipe to what I have on hand.  It encourages food to be used that has already been purchased and it keeps me from going to the grocery store more than a few times a month ...  unless of course its a milk run!!

Today's rendition went a bit like this ...

I heated my crock pot to low since it would be left to cook all afternoon.  I added a carton of the tomato soup and a carton of chicken stock ...

... and then I raided my pantry and fridge for the rest.  I used 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 can tomato sauce, 2 cans drained green beans, parmesan cheese, 1 tsp each of basil, oregano and parsley, 2 tbsp minced garlic and 1/4 c chopped onion. I stirred it all together and left it for tonight's dinner.  About 15 minutes before we sit down to eat, I will add gnocchi to simmer and cook in the hot soup.

Next was the bread for our side dish.  Cheese onion bread sounded like it would accompany the soup well, so I went with it!  I combined 1 1/2 c water, 1/4 c sugar, 4 1/4 c flour, 1 c shredded cheese, 2 tbsp dehydrated onion and 2 1/4 tsp yeast.  I set my bread maker to make a 2 pound loaf of bread and in 3 1/2  hours it would be ready.  I planned to be gone longer than that today ... but not to worry, because the bread maker defaults to a warm setting when the bread is done baking- perfect for letting this mix, knead, rise and bake while we are gone!!

Now the fun begins!  Cole is a creature of habit and very easy to please.  When asked who his favorite people are, his Grammie is always top of the list ... this being said, we spent the afternoon with her.  We headed over to the mall for the boys to ride the train ... also high on Cole's list of favorite things to do.  On our way out, it was surprisingly chilly, so we bundled up in our coats and loaded the car ... poor Braydon barely fit in his car seat with his puffy jacket- I think the warmth of it almost put him to sleep!

I have to share a funny moment with you before I go any further ... perhaps it was much funnier in person-either way my Mom and I got a good laugh.  We were driving down the hill and drove over a pot hole to which Cole says, Uh oh!  I think you ran over a crock pot!!  Seriously?! A crock pot??  Not a toy, a box or ANYTHING else for that matter- no, a crock pot!  We will give him the benefit of the doubt that it was on his mind after helping me prep our soup, but still!  My almost 4 year old just through out there that he thinks we drove over a crock pot.  Good stuff.

SO, anyways when we arrived at the mall, Cole hopped on the train and Braydon decided not to go ... afterwards I realized it was because Braydon wanted to go get his treat around the corner.  Apparently he thought he had to pick one or the other ... and he was holding out for his treat!

Now it was time for THE TREAT!! Menchie's Frozen Yogurt is one of the boy's favorite places to go.  Cole loves to try every flavor ...

And Braydon goes for the toppings ... and when I say toppings, that is ALL I mean ...

Whatever works right?!

We had two very happy boys with their favorite treats and their Grammie ... 

Cole told Grammie that he wanted to have a party, balloons and a plane cake at her house for his birthday.  Well, she planned exactly that just that as any good Grammie would do- so Saturday should be a fun day for him!  Cole is obsessed with the color green, so his plane cake had to be green and what else had to be green too??  You better believe it, his Menchie's frozen yogurt!  We got packaged cartons of GREEN frozen yogurt to save for Saturday, and he insisted on carrying them to the car.

Happy Boy!!

By this time Braydon was super tired, but not giving in to sleeping quite yet.  He still had a few peanut M&Ms to finish ... they were blue if you couldn't tell.

Next on Cole's list of requests for the afternoon was to play at Grammie and Papa's house.  Braydon wanted to watch a movie and Cole wanted to paint.  It was so fun to see the boys play together and independently, have snacks, giggle, build tinker toys, ride cars, play blocks and legos -and see continual SMILES.  

Cole asked Grammie if he could see the cake she made for his party.  It was supposed to be a surprise for Saturday, but we were suckers for his sad face, so Grammie showed it to him-- He LOVED it!!

Didn't she do a great job?!

We got back to more playing and movie watching ... ridiculous I know to see how close Braydon likes to watch his movies ... we have found it isn't an eyesight issue, he simply likes to be a part of the movie.

Out came the smocks, paints and paintbrushes ...

and again, Braydon tried to eat the paint.  Not something we encourage, so he was quickly done :)

We were silly playing with our blocks and found these eyeballs that were a part of our legos!

Our time at Grammie's was coming to a close, so we took pictures with Cole and his paintings and got to cleaning up our mess -which is such an example of how much fun we all had :)

When we came home the house smelled so good!  Our bread was warm and and our soup was ready!  

Before I served the soup, I added the gnocchi to the soup for about 15 minutes until they cooked through.  

When the gnocchi had softened I served the soup and with the warmed bread.

What a fun filled day we had!

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